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  • Writer's pictureJanelle Safford

Growth Mindset Impact

What is a wildly important goal you might have as it relates to technology integration in your career?

One goal that I have that relates to technology integration in my career is to convince teachers and school administrators of the importance of continuous learning in their field and to constantly be connected to current education research. I have learned so much later in my career that I wish I would have known or I wish someone would have at least emphasized the importance of constantly learning to perfect my trade.  Even the simple decision to develop a PLN through Twitter and conferences has completely shifted my thinking about education in general, but especially technology’s influence on learning.   

Would you consider yourself primarily on a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?

I, like most people, display a mixture of growth and fixed mindsets depending on the situation and where I am in my life.  Although, I recently have developed the idea that I can learn anything, anywhere, at any age in my personal life, I am also painfully aware that,in the past,I have applied fixed mindset principals with my own children as well as some of my past students.  I have shamefully labeled some of my students as well as my own children as “natural students”.  This term referred to what I perceived as the ability of some students over others to learn easier with less effort.  My two girls are six years apart in age and as different as night and day. My oldest excelled in school and was often praised for her academic ability, but my youngest often struggled.  I now suspect that she had an undiagnosed reading disability, however I always just chalked it up to her not being the “student type”.  That label seemed to stick because she decided that she simply would never be “college material”.   

Has one mindset set you back from achieving this wildly important goal?

I hope not!  However, sometimes I catch myself demonstrating the fixed mindset in reference to my goal by becoming easily discouraged by the lack of interest and reluctance of teachers and administrators in my district to embrace the idea of continuous learning and taking measures to constantly challenge ideas when it comes to the teaching profession.  It would be easy to simply give up and fall in line with “doing it the way it has always been done” and at times that is exactly what I do.  However, I hope to continue to apply the growth mindset in my own profession with the knowledge that true enlightenment and change does not typically come easy.

Do you build up resistance to failure, avoiding it all possible times?

Again, I don’t think this is a yes or no question for me.  Sometimes I do avoid failure or criticism by simply avoiding the most direct path to a solution. For example if I anticipate criticism from others or push back I sometimes will tiptoe around a situation or postpone it.  I really try not to do this, but some things just aren’t worth the hassle. I tend to choose my battles and approach people that I think I have a chance convincing when it comes to new approaches to learning.  However, I think the act of examining my avoidance to difficult situations through this class might actually help with this.  (I guess that’s the point)

What resources (content, video, media, etc.) might you use to help you develop your skills?

I like to collect articles, videos and graphic quotes.  You might say it is sort of a hobby of mine.  I have created folders in Google Drive for various topics and I also use Pocket to collect articles with tags that I can refer to or glean information from as needed.  I have a “Big Ideas” folder that serves as a collection of inspirational articles and quotes.  Ironically, many of the articles are directed to the business world but the ideas can easily transfer to any educational institution. One of the articles titled “Seven Tips for Shifting a Mindset in Your Organization” offers surprisingly practical advice about how to be an “idea entrepreneur” to influence ideas in an organization. (Butman, 2103)  I also send out a digital newsletter each month to everyone in my district that always contains at least one quote from my collection.  Here are a few of my favorites.

  1. “If you’re not failing every now and then, it’s a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.” (Woody Allen)

  2. “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” (Benjamin Franklin)

  3. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” (Robert Kennedy)

  4. “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” (George Couros, The Innovator’s Mindset)

What steps will you take to ensure you will not downplay the growth mindset with the easier-to-do 'false' growth mindset?

The ‘false’ growth mindset is an easy trap to fall into unless you deeply understand the concept of the growth mindset.  This article in which Carol Dweck was interviewed about the dangers of the ‘false’ growth mindset she states:

I think a lot of what happened [with false growth mindset among educators] is that instead of taking this long and difficult journey, where you work on understanding your triggers, working with them, and over time being able to stay in a growth mindset more and more, many educators just said, “Oh yeah, I have a growth mindset” because either they know it’s the right mindset to have or they understood it in a way that made it seem easy.  (Gross-Loh, 2016)

The first step to not falling into the idea of the “false” mindset is understanding that adults and children will not always have one mindset or the other.  I have the responsibility to myself as well as to the teachers and students I work with to truly understand that abilities can be developed and not fall back on simply praising effort with no real results.

What is most important - the what, the how, or the why when it comes to learning and pursuing life goals?

The “why” should always be the catalyst and the reason behind pursuing personal life goals as adults as well as student learning in the classroom.  “Why do I need to go through the effort to learn?” or “Why should I persevere when things get difficult?”  We, as humans, all crave a reason behind everything we do. The “why” serves as our motivation and without a clear reason for learning or pursuing a goal we often struggle to find the motivation and energy needed to keep going especially when things get difficult. Teachers can provide steps (how) and can tell students all about the content (what), but until a student makes a authentic connection to WHY the material should be learned, the motivation to learn is lacking.

What does UDL and personalized learning mean for the learner?

Universal Design in Learning is a framework that shifts and redefines how learners learn.  UDL makes me think about the Chinese proverb “Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime”.  Instead of simply learning a predetermined list of topics (such as TEKS) the learner must learn how to apply the art/act of learning so that learning can happen in any situation or subject.  The teacher’s role in the process is then to become a designer or conductor of learning.  A teacher must be there to guide and coach the learner and provide the tools and materials necessary for learning to take place.  


Butman, J. (2014, August 07). Seven Tips for Shifting a Mindset in Your Organization. Retrieved September 16, 2017, from

Gross-Loh, C. (2016, December 16). How Praise Became a Consolation Prize. Retrieved September 16, 2017, from

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